Rabbit Science Decathlon


The Pre-registration Form for the NYS 4-H Rabbit Science Decathlon Contest can be found on the Fair Forms and Information page.

Participants are given 4 minutes at each station to answer verbal questions.

There are 10 stations in the NYS 4-H Rabbit Science Decathlon:

  1. Anatomy & Physiology (involves questions about mammalian digestive systems, body parts, bones etc.) 3 divisions
  2. Nutrition (involves questions about feed content, water and feed requirements, nutritional needs for different stages of development) 3 divisions
  3. Housing & Equipment (involves questions about hutches, cages, floor space, nest boxes, feeders, ventilation, environment in general) 3 divisions
  4. Health & Diseases (includes questions about any health problem, identification of symptoms, treatments) 3 divisions
  1. Terminology (may include questions about breed standards) 3 divisions
  2. Reproduction & Genetics (involves questions about sexing, responsible breeding practices, general inheritance patterns) 3 divisions
  3. Breed Identification (All participants will identify 5 breeds of live rabbits. Novice will identify the breed only, Juniors will identify the breed and variety, Seniors will identify the breed, variety and class (4 or 6) or body type.) 3 divisions
  4. Records & Project Evaluation/Management (participants MUST bring a NYS 4-H Rabbit or Cavy Project Record to the station.) They are evaluated on what they know and have recorded. Records are downloadable from the Rabbit and Cavy Project page
  5. Handling & Evaluation (Novice and Junior participants handle, examine, pose and judge their own rabbit in front of a proctor). Bring a rabbit that you can handle and one for which you know the breed standard requirements. This station resembles showmanship in other states. Show coats are not required. Expected attire at this station will include either a long sleeve show coat of any color OR a long sleeve collared white button shirt. A live judging or culling component may be included for Seniors only. 
  6. Standards of Perfection. Novice, Juniors and Seniors will have an opportunity to use a standard of perfection reference at this station. Participants should be familiar with body types and know the difference between full arched, semi-arched, commercial, compact, and cylindrical body types. Questions about judging a rabbit will also be asked.

Seniors Only will have an opportunity to rank a live class of rabbits OR cull a young litter of bunnies. Seniors will assess which rabbit would be judged higher on certain standard characteristics. These characteristics might include head, ears, general type, fur quality, color, markings, condition or disqualifications. In addition to choosing the correct rank order, the participant may be asked to state why the particular rabbits were selected.

To encourage 4-H’ers to work as a team before the day of the event, the NYS 4-H Rabbit & Cavy advisory committee has agreed to repeat a component in the decathlon contest for teams only. After each individual contestant has competed by county in the decathlon, teammates will meet to solve a problem scenario and they will select a captain or leader amongst themselves to take notes for their group’s work.  Each team will receive points for their effort. These points will be added to the individual scores of the top 3 team members of each team in order to ascertain the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place teams in each division.

Although other sources may be used, most questions will be taken from information obtained from the following sources:

1. Standard of Perfection 2016 – 2020 – available from the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association (ARBA)

2. Your Rabbit/Your Cavy – A Kid’s Guide to Raising and Showing by Nancy Searle

3. Kansas State University 4-H Rabbit Curriculum

4. Rabbit Production (9th Edition) by Cheeke, Patton, Lukefahr, and McNitt

5. Official Guidebook: Raising Better Rabbits & Cavies (2000), available from ARBA

6. 4-H Skills for Life Animal Science Rabbit Series, available from shop4-h.org

7. Ohio State University Rabbit Resource Handbook for Breeding, Market and Pet Rabbit Projects, Product Code: 228R, available from OSU Extension Publications

8. Ohio State University Rabbit Learning Lab Kits are available to borrow from the NYS 4-H Animal Science Office at Cornell University.  Fill out request to borrow the kits from Morrison Hall here.  Kits are also available for purchase from Ohio 4-H Youth Development at this link: https://ohio4h.org/books-and-resources/learning-lab-kits

9. Washington State 4-H Cavy Project Leader Guide EM4664

10. Journal of American Cavy Breeders Association

Division Definitions:

Novice competitors must be at least 8 and in 3rd grade by January 1 of the current year and less than 19 years of age on January 1 of the current year. This must also be their first time competing in the contest at state fair.

Senior Division includes all youths who are 15 and less than 19 as of January 1 of current year. Junior Division includes all eligible youths 14 and under as of January 1 of current year.

Contact: Dana Palmer